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Graduation Rates for Master's & Doctoral Students

Graduation outcomes of PhD students

  • 450-500 students begin doctoral work each fall.
  • Doctoral students generally take 5-8 years from entry to graduate.
  • A few graduate sooner, a few in 9-10 years.
  • About 60% of entering doctoral students receive PhD's within 8 years of entering.
  • 30-40% leave UCB without a degree.
  • Details, updated Jan 2011

Overview - By college and degree program - last updated 2008

The Office of Data Analytics looked at graduation rates for master's and doctoral students. For both groups we combined three years of entering cohorts in order to obtain sufficient numbers for analysis by program.

  • Master's students = A 3-year graduation rate for cohorts entering fall 2003 - fall 2005.
  • Doctoral students = A 10-year graduation rate for cohorts entering 1996 - 1998 AND a 7-year graduation rate for cohorts entering 1999 - 2001.

Over three quarters of entering master's students graduated within 3 years. Over a half of entering doctoral students graduated within seven years and just over 60% graduated within 10 years.

All figures here match those published in the graduate education section of the Academic Review and Planning unit profiles for 2008-09 reviews.

There is a wide variance in the results by discipline college and degree program.

Additional results

  • The 3-year master's graduation rates range from 66% for music to 89% for business.
  • The 7-year doctoral graduation rates range from 46% for social sciences and music to 71% in journalism. The 10-year rates range from 48% for social sciences to 77% for business.
  • The 10-year doctoral graduation rates are of course generally higher than the 7-year. However, in several social science and arts and humanities departments the later cohort, with fewer years' opportunity, has a higher graduation rate. See for example Spanish (32% 10-year, 65% 7-year) and Economics (47% 10-year, 58% 7-year). This likely indicates that either program improvements or better prepared students in the later cohort, or both, led to higher graduation rates.

Method and population

  • Masterís: students first observed fall 2003, 2004, and 2005 combined, as a masterís student (coded on SIS as seeking a masterís degree, admitted for masterís study). Students entering in the spring or summer terms were excluded.
  • Doctoral: 10-year rate for the cohort first observed any term summer 1996Ėspring 1999 as a doctoral student (admitted for doctoral study, coded on SIS as seeking a doctoral degree). 7-year graduation rate for the cohort first observed any term summer 1999Ėspring 2002 as a doctoral student.

Students are counted multiple times if they began multiple programs at the same level (can be in the same term or in different terms). If a student is in two programs but completes a degree in only one program then the student is counted TWICE: once as a successful completion in the program with degree, and then a second time as an unsuccessful completion in the other program.

For each entering student we found the earliest degree after entry that matches entry type (master's or doctoral). We ignored master's degrees earned by students who entered as doctoral-seeking.

In counting elapsed time, three terms (fall, spring, summer) are counted as one year.

  • One year plus one term = 1.3 years
  • One year plus two terms = 1.7 years

Also see our previous postings on master's and doctoral graduation rates...

Last revision 05/18/16

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